Moroccan Cuisine


Moroccan cuisine is globally recognized for its richness of flavors, aromas, and colors. The foundation of Moroccan gastronomy is fresh ingredients and aromatic spices. Preserved lemons, olives, and dried fruits are commonly used in both sweet and savory dishes. An interesting feature of Moroccan cuisine is the combination of sweet and spicy, which is characteristic of many traditional recipes. Moroccan cuisine reflects the historical and cultural influences of the Berbers, Arabs, Andalusians, and the French.

Moroccan Soups and Appetizers

Other popular dishes include harira, a rich and hearty Moroccan soup that is often served during Ramadan to break the fast. Harira may contain meat, red lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, and a variety of spices. Bissara is a thick bean soup or puree traditionally served for breakfast in cooler months. Bissara is very nutritious and is often flavored with olive oil, garlic, and spices. In Morocco, it is commonly served with bread. Zaalouk is a popular Moroccan salad made from roasted eggplants. The eggplants are roasted until soft, then mashed and mixed with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, spices, and often with chili. Zaalouk can be served warm or cold and is excellent as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to main dishes.

Moroccan bissara soup
Moroccan bissara soup

Moroccan Main Dishes

In Moroccan cuisine, the completeness of the main dish, which is often based on local agricultural products, is an important element. Perhaps the most famous Moroccan dish is tajine, named after the conical pot in which it is slowly stewed. This dish combines meat (most commonly beef, lamb, chicken, or fish), vegetables, fruits, and a wide range of spices. Tajine can also be sweet and sour, thanks to the addition of dried fruit such as plums or raisins. The combination of beef with plums is exquisite. Couscous is another traditional dish made from small grains of semolina wheat. Couscous is served with various types of vegetables, meat, or fish. In Morocco, it is often served on Fridays as a family meal.

Video recipe for traditional Moroccan chicken tajine (in Czech).

Pastilla is one of the most refined dishes of Moroccan cuisine. This sweet-savory pie is traditionally made from layers of thin pastry filled with finely spiced poultry meat, with pigeon meat used in the original recipe. It is sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, giving it an interesting sweet-savory flavor.

Moroccan meat pie pastilla
Moroccan meat pie pastilla

Moroccan Desserts and Sweets

Moroccan desserts and sweets are famous for their variety and inventive preparation. Chebakia is a honey pastry that is traditionally baked during Ramadan. This sweet has a distinctive shape.

Moroccan cookies ghriba
Moroccan cookies ghriba

Moroccan Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Moroccan cuisine is known for its refreshing and aromatic drinks, which perfectly complement the rich flavors of traditional dishes.


Video: 5 drinks you should try in Morocco (in English).

Mint Tea

One cannot forget about Moroccan mint tea. It is not only a drink but also an important part of Moroccan culture. Moroccan tea is a strong green tea with fresh mint, traditionally very sweet. It is the national drink of Morocco. Some food bloggers refer to it as “Moroccan whisky,” but I have never encountered such a designation in Morocco itself.

Fruit Juices and Avocado Smoothies

Alongside mint tea, various fruit juices and smoothies are also popular, which utilize the richness of local fruits such as oranges, lemons, or dates. Freshly squeezed fruit juices are a pleasant refreshment during hot days. On the other hand, an avocado smoothie is a substantial snack.

Moroccan Alcoholic Beverages

Morocco is a Muslim country, and thus alcohol consumption is limited and not as widespread as in other countries. However, it is possible to come across alcoholic beverages in Morocco, especially in tourist areas. Alcoholic drinks are sold in large supermarkets in separate areas. Moroccans even have their local Moroccan beers and wines, which taste great.

Popular Ingredients of Moroccan Cuisine

Moroccan cuisine is known for its rich use of diverse ingredients, which form the basis of traditional dishes, such as tagine or pastilla.

Spices

  • Cumin: A fundamental spice, adds an earthy flavor.
  • Turmeric: Used for color and a slightly bitter taste.
  • Sesame: Popular for decoration.
  • Cinnamon: Used in both sweet and savory dishes.
  • Cilantro: Used in dishes both fresh and in dried form.
  • Fennel and anise: For an aniseed flavor.
  • Saffron: A luxurious spice, adds a distinctive flavor.

Meat and Fish

  • Lamb: Traditional meat used in tagines and other dishes.
  • Chicken: Commonly paired with couscous.
  • Beef: Less frequent than chicken and lamb. Beef tagine is often prepared with dried plums.
  • Seafood: In areas close to the coast.

Side Dishes

  • Moroccan Bread: The foundation of every meal, served with almost all dishes. Moroccan bread is significantly different from breads known in Europe.
  • Couscous: The national dish of Morocco, often combined with meat and vegetables.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Dates: Popular as a sweet treat and also added to dishes.
  • Dried Fruits: Often combined with meat in tagines.
  • Olives: Used in sauce preparations, often served as an appetizer.
  • Lemons: Preserved lemons are a typical ingredient.
  • Avocado and Pomegranates: Excellent in avocado smoothies or fresh juices from squeezed pomegranates.

Oils

  • Argan Oil: A traditional ingredient in Moroccan cuisine, used to flavor salads and dishes.

Video on the preparation of a traditional Moroccan menu (in English).

Additional Information

Morocco and Michelin-Starred Restaurants

Unfortunately, there are no Michelin-starred restaurants in Morocco. Around the world, there are six awarded restaurants focusing on Moroccan cuisine. Four are in the USA, one in Canada, and one in France (Le Sirocco in Paris).

Ramadan in Moroccan Cuisine

Ramadan, the holy month of the Islamic calendar, has a significant impact on the eating habits of locals in Morocco. During Ramadan, Muslims engage in fasting from dawn until sunset. The meal, known as iftar, which breaks the fast, is often extensive and social. However, as a tourist, you will have no trouble finding food in restaurants during Ramadan.

Influence of History on Moroccan Cuisine

Moroccan cuisine is the result of a rich mix of cultures. It starts with the original inhabitants, the Berbers, who have lived here for thousands of years. With the arrival of the Arabs, Moroccan cuisine was enriched with new ingredients and techniques. The Arab influence, which arrived in Morocco in the 7th century, is particularly evident in the use of spices and vegetables. The Arabs also enriched Moroccan cuisine with sophisticated cooking methods that are reflected in the way traditional dishes are prepared. The center of this influence became the city of Fés, which is now known as the gastronomic heart of Morocco. Over the centuries, Moroccan cuisine has also been influenced by a number of other cultures, including Mediterranean, Spanish, or French. The influence of French cuisine can still be easily recognized today in the exquisite fresh baguettes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the typical dishes of Moroccan cuisine?

Typical dishes of Moroccan cuisine include couscous, tagine – slow-cooked meat with spices and vegetables, harira soup, pastilla – sweet meat pastry, and various salads.

What spices are most commonly used in Moroccan cuisine?

Moroccan cuisine often uses spices such as dried coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and saffron. These spices give the dishes their characteristic taste and aroma.

How does the history of Morocco influence local gastronomy?

The history of Morocco has influenced local gastronomy through Berber, Arab, Andalusian, and French influences, which are reflected in the diversity of ingredients, food preparation, and the combination of flavors.

What should I try when visiting Morocco?

Visitors to Morocco should try couscous, various kinds of tagine, sweet mint tea, khobz bread, and other traditional Moroccan pastries and confections.

What is characteristic of tagine and how is it prepared?

Tagine is characterized by slow cooking of meat and vegetables with spices in a ceramic pot of the same name. The conical shape of the tagine vessel allows for even heat distribution. Tagine may contain beef, lamb, chicken, or fish and is usually served with Moroccan bread or couscous.

What agricultural crops are typical for Morocco?

Typical agricultural crops for Morocco include olives, oranges, lemons, and figs. Morocco is also known for its large production of almonds and argan oil, which are often used in local cuisine.

What types of spices are most commonly used in Moroccan cuisine?

Spices such as coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, or paprika are commonly used in Moroccan cuisine. The spice blend Ras el hanout, which can contain up to dozens of different spices, is an essential part of many traditional recipes.

What are the customs associated with food in Morocco?

Customs associated with food in Morocco include communal dining, serving mint tea as a sign of hospitality, and consuming meals with fingers or bread, which serves as cutlery.

What is the price range of meals in restaurants in Morocco?

The price range of meals in Moroccan restaurants can vary significantly. While street vendors offer cheap snacks for just a few dozen crowns, luxury hotel establishments can have very high prices. Generally, Morocco is significantly cheaper than European countries.

(The article is in progress, it will be expanded.)